A transgender man in Kansas City has alleged that a pharmacist at the retail giant Costco refused to sell him insulin syringes, which did not require a prescription, upon learning he intended to use them for testosterone injections. This incident is the latest in a series involving pharmacists allegedly denying medical supplies to transgender patients.
A Transgender Man’s Experience
The individual, known as “Dave” according to The Kansas City Star, visited the Linwood Boulevard Costco to purchase syringes that were available in bulk packs of 100 at a more affordable price than other retailers.
The Costco Syringe Incident
When asked about his preferred size and gauge by the Costco pharmacist, Dave explained that he used insulin syringes for his testosterone injections due to their smaller needle gauges, causing less discomfort.
Misunderstanding at the Pharmacy
However, the situation took a turn when the pharmacist overheard the purpose of his purchase and stated, “This won’t work for testosterone. We won’t sell it to you unless you have your doctor call it in.”
The Unfortunate Turn of Events
Dave attempted to contact his doctor’s office, but it was closed at the time.
Rather than engaging in an argument with the pharmacist about his previous prescription-free purchases at Costco, he decided to leave the store.
Missouri Pharmacy Regulations
According to the Missouri Pharmacy Board, syringes only require a prescription if they are labeled “for Rx only.”
The syringes Dave intended to buy did not have this label. Nonetheless, pharmacists maintain the discretion to choose what to dispense, provided they do not violate federal anti-discrimination laws.
Federal Anti-Discrimination Laws
Both the U.S. Supreme Court and the administration of President Joe Biden have interpreted federal anti-discrimination laws to classify anti-trans discrimination as a form of gender- or sex-based discrimination.
Echoes of a Past Case
This incident echoes a similar case from the previous year when the Civil Rights and Equal Opportunity Department in Kansas City investigated Costco for allegedly refusing to provide prescribed testosterone orders to five trans and nonbinary individuals.
Legal Grounds for Discrimination
In Kansas City, gender identity-based discrimination is illegal.
While the city claimed that the case was “settled to the satisfaction of all parties,” one of the affected individuals reported never hearing back from the city regarding the case after sharing their story with the civil rights department.
LGBTQ Commission’s Concerns
Justice Horn, chair of the city’s LGBTQ Commission, has expressed his intention to inform the Kansas City Council about these alleged instances of discrimination, as the civil rights department did not inform Horn’s commission about the outcomes of its investigation and settlement.
Horn emphasized the importance of enforcing the city’s non-discrimination ordinance, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year.
He stated, “We unequivocally stand with those harmed and impacted.”
This incident is not an isolated one. In a separate incident, a Walgreens pharmacy manager in Bristol, Virginia, reportedly refused to fill a hormone replacement therapy prescription for an intersex child, citing personal beliefs.
Personal Beliefs Trumping Medical Service
In Oakland, California, a pharmacist cited their religious beliefs when refusing to fill a prescription for a similar treatment in June.
Last year, an employee at a Wisconsin Walgreens allegedly refused to sell condoms to a customer, as it went against her faith.
Cases From Around the Nation
Such incidents have occurred in various other pharmacies as well.
From Wisconsin to Florida
In June of last year, a transgender woman in Florida claimed that her local Publix pharmacy refused to refill her prescription for gender-affirming medication.
In 2018, a pharmacist at an Arizona CVS refused to fill a transgender woman’s hormone replacement therapy prescription.
Religious Freedom and Healthcare Access
Such refusals have not only infringed upon the rights of transgender individuals but have also raised questions about the balance between religious freedom and equal access to healthcare.
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Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / Rachael Warriner. The people shown in the images are for illustrative purposes only, not the actual people featured in the story.